Trophée Bailli du Suffren fleet welcomed to Gozo by Yachting Malta
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Yachting Malta has officially welcomed the Trophée Bailli du Suffren fleet to Gozo, during a press conference held at Mgarr Marina.
The sixteenth edition came to a close when ten yachts completed the 580-nautical mile race, which started in Saint Tropez with stopovers in Porto Rotondo, Trapani, and finally the Maltese islands.
Hailed as the Mediterranean’s most renowned classic yacht race, for the first time in the races’ history, the finish was positioned in Gozo, where crews were hosted by Mgarr Marina and the Ministry for Gozo, whilst being able to sample Gozo’s unique character, history, and culinary delights.
Wilfrid Buttigieg Yachting Malta’s CEO, conveyed his pride at being part of this event, and explained that one of Yachting Malta’s roles was to enhance Malta’s leading name and tradition as a yachting events destination in the Mediterranean.
He added, “Yachting Malta is proud to be part of this prestigious event, we are confident that Maltese hospitality blended with French humour and elegance will see crews return and also attract new participants for future races.”
Buttigieg remarked that this is the first year Yachting Malta is involved; the plan is to spearhead the potential growth of the event.
“Continual innovation is a key feature for any successful yachting events strategy. It is thus imperative that the host venue for such events annually updates the event programme with new features,” he said.
Pierre Balzan, Mgarr Marina Managing Director, which is part of the Melita Marine Group, welcomed the fleet, and expressed his delight at the opportunity to welcome such an interesting fleet.
Balzan explained the Marina’s role in developing another tourism sector in Gozo, with the Marina’s rehabilitation project of the waterfront area, which involved the creation of pedestrian zones and landscaped plazas with seating areas, enabling the enjoyment of open sea views.
Henri-Christian Schroeder, the founder of the race, explained what was behind the inception of this race. The Trophée Bailli du Suffren was Henri-Christian’s idea, that has been only possible with the support of his friend Christian Benoit, who is well-known in St.Tropez.
The event was launched in 2001 he said, together to create what was to become “the longest race for classic yachts in the Mediterranean – a rally of special friends, old and new.”
Named after Pierre Andre de Suffren, who was Vice Admiral of the French fleet and a Knight of Malta, the title of Bailli was given by the Order of Malta.
Schroeder commented that De Suffren was known by his sailors and his enemies (particularly the British) as ‘Admiral Satan.’ To date, seven ships of the French navy have borne the name of Suffren in his honour. His statue dominates the quayside in Saint Tropez.
“This cruising race, open to classic yachts of over eleven metres, is also a ‘gentleman’s race,’ which requires friendly competition, courage, and spirit between the competing yachts,” explained Henri Christian Schroeder.
Competing yachts were divided into three categories – Vintage, Classic, and Spirit of Tradition.
Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana was present for the welcome event and expressed her delight towards the fact that the organisers of this event, together with the guidance of Yachting Malta, chose Gozo as the final destination.
Dr Caruana remarked that, “Gozo’s idyllic features go part and parcel with Malta’s overall prestige for sailing and yachting.”
Minister Caruana explained that the Government’s strategy is to ensure that further high-level events, such as the Bailli de Suffren choose Gozo as part of their route.
The Minister congratulated all the contestants during this year’s race and the organisers involved, including Yachting Malta, for their pro-active approach in the luring of the best competitions to Gozo and Malta.
The Trophée Bailli de Suffren left Gozo for a Parade of Sail early in the afternoon, thus seeing the fleet head towards the Royal Malta Yacht Club, the selected venue for the Prize Giving Evening in the presence of crews, dignitaries and guests.
This event was supported by Yachting Malta, Mgarr Marina Gozo, Ministry for Gozo, Malta Tourism Authority, Malta Tourism Authority – Gozo, Malta Tourism Authority – France, Ministry for Tourism, Camper and Nicholsons Marinas (Grand Harbour Marina), Charles Grech Wines and Spirits, and the Royal Malta Yacht Club.